No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for September, 2012

September 30, 2012

First Presidential Debate

by @ 13:02. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

Update: In a move that has come to be known in Wisconsin as “The Favre,” it is being reported that Steve Egg will be coming out of his self imposed retirement to join the live debate tonight….let’s see if his aging legs serve him better than Favre’s did!

Come one, come all. Bring your booze and your snark. Leave your thin skins at home!

I’ll try to get things rolling by about 7:45 Central

September 28, 2012

Out With a Bang!

Egg has announced that he will be putting up the closed sign here at NRE in the not too distant future. He’s graciously offered for me to take over here but really, can you imagine someone with my green complexion holding down a blog site for runny eggs? ewwwww!

All that said, there’s no reason to let many years of fun and friends go out with a whimper. We need to take advantage of the upcoming debates and take this baby out in style!

There are currently 4 Presidential/VP debates scheduled:

October 3rd at 8 Central
October 11th at 8 Central
October 16th at 8 Central
October 22nd at 8 Central

I’m a little challenged on the 22nd but think I can find a way to get live blogs going for all 4 events. Put these on your calendar today and plan on joining me and maybe Egg if he hasn’t succumbed to the Obamapacolypse by then. The “Family Friendly light” will definitely be extinguished for these events to plan on liquoring up prior to the start of the debate….you won’t want to be sober or sane for even a minute of these events!

Let’s take NRE out not with a whimper or simply a bang. Help me take NRE out in a fully engulfed in flames!

September 27, 2012

Closing time

by @ 7:04. Filed under Miscellaneous.

All good things must come to an end, and thus No Runny Eggs will soon be no more (unless Shoebox wants to continue it). I’m already an exile for saying, just like John Fuqua never touched the ball, M.J. Jennings never had sole possession of the last pass Monday night (though the touchdown should not have counted due to offensive pass interference). It’s time to prepare for the likelyhood that we’ll get ObamiNation 2.0, which will look far more like East Germany than West (and that’s if we’re lucky).

Egg out.

September 11, 2012

9/11 Hot Read – Allahpundit remembers 9/11

by @ 7:29. Filed under History.

Editor’s note: 3 years ago, Allahpundit tweeted out his day 10 years ago. Back then, he lived in lower Manhattan, close to the World Trade Center, close enough that he heard the planes hit the twin towers. Once again, I’ll repost them because it still is as moving as when I saw them show up in my timeline live.

Eight years ago, I remember opening my eyes at 8:46 a.m. in my downtown Manhattan apartment because…
…I thought a truck had crashed in the street outside
I remember pacing my apartment for the next 15 minutes thinking, stupidly, that a gas line might have been hit in the North Tower…
…and then I heard another explosion. I hope no one ever hears anything like it.
All I can say to describe it is: Imagine the sound of thousands of Americans screaming on a city street
It was unbelievable, almost literally
I remember being on the sidewalk and there was an FBI agent saying he was cordoning off the street…
…and then, the next day, when I went back for my cats, they told me I might see bodies lying in front of my apartment building (I didn’t)
We held a memorial service in October for my cousin’s husband, who was “missing” but not really…
He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. They found a piece of his ribcage in the rubble not too long afterwards.
This is the guy who conspired to murder him: http://is.gd/38h7y
Had a friend from the high school speech and debate team who disappeared from the 105th floor
Had another friend of a friend who worked on the 80th floor or so, married six weeks before the attack…
Speculation is that he was right in the plane’s path, and was killed instantly when it plowed through the building
Did a bit of legal work for a couple whose son worked in the upper floors. Was dating someone else up there at the time…
I was told that she managed to call her parents while they were trapped up there and that the call “was not good”
Never found out if it was cut off by the building collapsing or not
I remember opening my eyes at 8:46 a.m. thinking “I hope that was just a pothole.” Then I heard a guy outside my window say, “Oh shit”
Opened the window, looked to my left, saw huge smoke coming out of the WTC
Left at around 9:30, decided to walk uptown thinking that the buildings would never collapse and that…
…I’d be back in my apartment by the next night. I never went back. It was closed off until December.
I remember thinking when I was a few blocks away that the towers might collapse, and so I walked faster…
…although I sneered at myself later for thinking that might be true and for being a coward. Although not for long.
To this day, you can find photos of thousands of people congregated in the blocks surrounding the Towers, seemingly…
…waiting for them to fall that day
When I got to midtown, rumors were that Camp David and the Sears Tower had also been destroyed. I remember looking around…
…and thinking that we had to get out of Manhattan, as this might be some pretext to get us into the street and hit us with some germ
I callled my dad — and somehow miraculously got through — and told him I was alive, then headed for the 59th street bridge
To this day, the scariest memory is being on that bridge, looking at the Towers smoking in the distance,
and thinking maybe the plotters had wired the bridge too to explode beneath us while we were crossing it.
I remember talking to some guy on the bridge that we’d get revenge, but…
…you had to see the smoke coming from the Towers in the distance. It was like a volcano
I remember being down there two months later. There was a single piece of structure…
…maybe five stories tall of the lattice-work still standing. It looked like a limb of a corpse sticking up out of the ground.
They knocked it down soon after
At my office, which I had just joined, I was told that…
…some people had seen the jumpers diving out the windows to escape the flames that morning
There was a video online, posted maybe two years ago, shot from the hotel across the street,,,
…and it showed roughly 10-12 bodies flattened into panackes lying in the central plaza
Maybe it’s still online somewhere
You have to see it to understand, though. You get a sense of it from the Naudet brothers documentary hearing…
…the explosions as the bodies land in the plaza, but seeing it and hearing it are two different things
I remember after I got over the bridge into Queens, I heard a noise overheard…
…that I’d never heard before. It was an F-15, on patrol over New York. Very odd sound. A high-pitched wheeze.
I remember on Sept. 12, when I got on the train to go downtown and try to get my cats out of the apartment…
…the Village was utterly deserted. No one on the streets. Like “28 Days Later” if you’ve seen that
We made it to a checkpoint and the cop said go no further, until my mom intervened. Then he took pity…
…and agreed to let me downtown IF I agreed that any exposure to bodies lying in the streets was my own fault.
Didn’t see any bodies, but I did see soldiers, ATF, FBI, and so on. The ground was totally covered by white clay…
…which I knew was formed by WTC dust plus water from the FDNY. It look like a moonscape.
There was a firefighter at the intersection and I flagged him down and asked if I could borrow his flashlight, since…
…all buildings downtown had no power. He gave me a pen flashlight.
The doors to my building at Park Place were glass but had kicked in, presumably by the FDNY, to see if there were…
…survivors inside. When I got in there, all power was out. No elevators, no hall lights…
…I had to feel my way to the hall and make my way up to my apartment on the third floor by feeling my way there…
…When I got there, the cats were alive. There was WTC dust inside the apartment, but…
…for whatever reason, I had closed the windows before I left to walk uptown that day, so dust was minimal. I loaded them…
…into the carrier and took them back to Queens. That was the last I could get into the apartment until December 2001,…
…and then it was only to get in, take whatever belongings were salvageable (i.e. not computer), and get out. I lived…
in that apartment from 7/2001 to 9/2001, but given the diseases longtime residents have had…
…I’m lucky I decided to move
My only other significant memory is being in the lobby of the apartment building on 9/11…
…and trying to console some woman who lived there who said her father worked on the lower floors of the WTC. I assume…
…he made it out alive, but she was hysterical as of 9:30 that a.m. Who could blame her?
I do remember feeling embarrassed afterwards that…
…I initially thought the smoke coming out of the North Tower was due to a fire or something, but…
…it’s hard to explain the shock of realizing you’re living through a historical event while you’re living through it.
For months afterwards, I tried to tell people how I thought maybe the Towers…
…were going to be hit by six or seven or eight planes in succession. Which sounds nuts, but once you’re in the moment…
…and crazy shit is happening, you don’t know how crazy that script is about to get.
When I left at 9:30, I thought more planes were coming.
I left because I thought, “Well, if these planes hit the building the right way, it could fall and land on mine.”\
I remember getting to 57th Street and asking some dude, “What happened?”
And he said, “They collapsed” and I couldn’t believe both of them had gone down. Even after the planes hit…
…I remembered that the Empire State Building had taken a hit from a military plane during WWII and still stood tall
So it was never a serious possibility that the WTC would collapse. I assumed…
…that the FDNY would get up there, put out the fire, and the WTC would be upright but with gigantic holes in it
It took an hour for the first tower to go down, 90 minutes for the second.
Even now, despite the smoke, I’m convinced most of the people trapped at the top were alive…
…and waiting, somehow, for a rescue. The couple whose legal case I worked for told me that…
…their son and his GF contacted her father very shortly before the collapse. Which makes sense. As much smoke as there was…
…if you have a five-story hole in the wall to let air in to breathe, you’re going to linger on.
So for many people, the choice probably quickly became: Hang on, endure the smoke, or jump
If you listen to the 911 calls, which I advise you not to do, some of the chose “hang on”
Although needless to say, if you ever saw the Towers…
…you know how dire things must have been up there to make anyone think the better solution was “jump”
They were ENORMOUS.
Another weird memory: Shortly after I got my apartment in lower Manhattan, on Park Place…
…I remember taking my brother to see “The Others,” which had just opened.
And afterwards I remember taking him up to the rooftop of my building to admire the Towers. According to Wikipedia…
“The Others” opened on August 10, 2001, so this must have been within 10 days or so afterwards. Very eerie.
And I remember we also went to Morton’s and Borders right inside the WTC complex to celebrate my new job
That Borders was gutted, needless to say, on 9/11. You could see the frame of the building in the WTC lobby after the attack
I was reading magazines in there the week or two before
One of the weirdest feelings, which I’m sure everyone can share, is that I remember distinctly feeling…
…in the month or two before the attack that “important” news no longer existed. It was all inane bullshit about…
…shark attacks and Gary Condit and overaged pitchers in the Little League World Series. To this day…
…I try never to grumble about a slow news day because the alternative is horrifyingly worse
After the attack, maybe a month after, I remember going to see “Zoolander” in Times Square and…
…coming up out of the subway tunnel having the distinct fear that…
…the sky would light up and a mushroom cloud would appear instantly above my head in my lost moment of consciousness. No joke. In fact…
..I ended up going to bed around 6:30 p.m. for maybe three months after 9/11.
Even when I ended up working downtown for years after that, with a luxurious view of upper Manhattan from the top floors…
…I always feared looking out the window because I was paranoid that at that precise moment, the flash would go off…
…and that’d be the last thing I see. And in fact, for a moment in 2003 when the power went out city-wide,
…I did think that was what was happening. The wages of 9/11.
I leave you with this, my very favorite film about the WTC. If you’re a New Yorker, have a hanky handy. No. 3 is golden http://is.gd/38qsT
One more note: If you’ve never seen a photo of the smoke coming from the Trade Center after the collapse, find one.
Watching it from the 59th bridge, it looked like a volcano. There was so much smoke, it was indescribable. Just *erupting* from the wreckage

For the benefit of those who haven’t seen the photo AP was talking about, here’s one from the United States Coast Guard (hosted on Flickr):

September 5, 2012

Wisconsin GPR tax revenue estimates increase (again)

by @ 20:25. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin, Taxes.

The Department of Revenue stated today that General Purpose Revenue tax collections for FY2012 increased to $13.515 billion in their next-to-last report on said revenues. The MacIver News Service noted this was $127 million higher than the DOR’s May 2012 estimate and $320 million higher than the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s February 2012 estimate.

Allow me to bring back from the memory hole a couple of other, earlier estimates. First is the LFB’s estimate immediately after the FY2012/FY2013 budget was adopted, as part of a longer memo showing that budget would produce a structural surplus in the succeeding biennium. In that memo, once the effects of the budget and the (prior-period) budget repair bill are added (subtracted, really) together, FY2012 GPR tax collections were expected to be $13.297 billion.

I’m sure my friends on the Left will say that, if we had just continued former governor Jim Doyle’s policies, things would be a lot better. That administration didn’t exactly see it that way. A LRB memo from late-January 2011 references the December 2010 DOR estimates, and despite economic assumptions that, on a national level, were a bit rosier than reality, the Doyle-era DOR foresaw only $13.304 billion in GPR tax collections for FY2012.

The Laffer Curve lives.

DemocRATs – We like being property of government

I wasn’t going to comment on a line from the DemocRAT National Convention’s opening video that said, “Government is the only thing we all belong to.” Then, an outfit called Revealing Politics decided to go out and ask delegates to the DemocRAT National Convention how it felt to belong to the government. I swear this video was not filmed in Pyongyang, even though the last time I saw something like it, it was:

Hope, change, continued decline in economic competitiveness

by @ 7:18. Filed under Economy Held Hostage.

CNBC reports that in the latest edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the United States fell another two positions to the 7th-most-competitive economy, driven by the unresolved governmental fiscal crises and lack of trust in politicians to either fix said problems or stay away from repeating Government Motors throughout the entire economy. Worse, two Eurozone countries, the Netherlands and Germany, despite having to deal with the basket cases known as the PI(I)GS (Portugal, Italy, Spain, and sometimes Ireland), climbed ahead of us.

Did I mention that, before President Downgrade came into office, the US was ranked #1? We need to end the hostage situation.

September 4, 2012

Where the hell has Egg been?

by @ 22:09. Filed under The Blog.

Some of you may have noticed the decided lack of posts here the last few months. I wish I had a fantastic story to tell, but I pretty much had a lengthy case of Blogger Fatigue, which coincided with a very hot summer and a few other things to keep me silent on forums that allow more than 140 characters.

I’ve done some fishing since the last time I regularly posted here. My spring trip, out to Seseganaga Lake was, in a word, incredible. I got my first trophy northern (a nice 41″er) as part of a whole string of trophies in the group, and the walleyes were, at least in one of the spots the rest of the gang fishes in the fall, biting anything that was in the water.

The summer canoe trip wasn’t exactly as fruitful as the weather was just plain hot. The walleyes were deeper than what we were willing to fish in a canoe, but the smallmouths were biting quite well.

The vehicle situation became one just before the canoe trip when the dashboard on the Subaru went haywire. I got convinved to, instead of spending thousands to fix it and a few other problems I had been pretty much neglecting to actually fix, join the pick-em-up club with a 2012 Toyota Tacoma. I’m not quite rich enough to afford the 4WD version, so I’m hoping my mad, if rusty, RWD snow driving skills, combined with the now-mandatory vehicle stability/traction control, can get me through the winter.

That also delayed my plans to replace the desktop computer. It’s still quite servicable, but this past winter, I almost didn’t need the furnace, and that is not good during a hot and humid summer. That last bit put the early kibosh on probably a dozen long-form posts I half-finished before the heat got to me.

In any case, welcome back, and I’ll try to keep up with the posting.

$16,015,769,788,215.80

by @ 21:08. Filed under Politics - National.

Sometime on Friday, the federal government crossed the $16 trillion debt barrier, with the official announcement that it hit $16,015,769,788,215.80 by the end of Friday made today. Less than 4 short years ago, it was $10.6 trillion.

The Republican National Committee decided to quote President Obama extensively for this occasion:

Let’s see; 4 years of $1.1 trillion-plus deficits (none of which qualifies as “cutting the deficit in half”), more publicly-held debt added under Obama ($4.965 trillion) than total debt added by any previous President – yep, Teh SCOAMF is a real success story…if your definition of “success” is “make it nigh impossible to dig out from governmental excess”.

Is it too late to save Social Security?

by @ 20:31. Filed under Social Security crater.

For a long time, it has been argued that Social Security was the easier of the two entitlement “bombs” to defuse. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) infamously said last year that nothing needed to be done to Social Security until the 2030s. Social Security Public Trustee Charles Blahous, author of Social Security: The Unfinished Work, argues that it may already be too late to save Social Security “as we know it”:

Social Security’s future, at least in the form it has existed dating back to FDR, is now greatly imperiled. The last few years of legislative neglect — due to a failure of national policy leadership coming just as the baby boomers have begun to retire — have drastically harmed the program’s future financial prospects. Individuals now planning their financial futures, whether as taxpayers or as beneficiaries, should be pricing in a substantial risk that the federal government will not be able to maintain Social Security as a self-financing, stand-alone program over the long term. If Social Security financing corrections are not enacted in 2013, or at the very latest by 2015, it becomes fairly likely that they will not be enacted at all.

Blahous gave three reasons for a lack of hope for resolving the Social Security crisis – the Baby Boomers starting to retire, the inability of either side to compromise in the face of a lack of one-party domination, and the lack of seriousness of many in power to address the issue. Allow me to add a fourth – the inability to even address the Disability Insurance (DI) portion. Despite outgo in the DI program outstripping taxes since the end of 2005, outgo outstripping both taxes and interest on the trust fund since early 2009, and predictions in each of the last several Trustees’ Reports that the trust fund would zero out sometime this decade (with the 2012 Trustees’ Report putting that year as 2016), nothing has been done to address this. Even the assumed “solution” of chaining it to the larger Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund, which would extend the life of DI roughly 17 years at the cost of shortening the life of OASI roughly 2 years, has not made it to the floor of either House of Congress.

The overall problem is much worse, if not quite as immediate, as the 1983 OASI crisis, or the 1994 DI crisis. In 1983, OASI merely had to weather a short-term storm before running nearly 30 years of surpluses, though it would have collapsed again in the 2020s and, if tethered to DI, collapsed the entire system by 2040. In 1994, the fix for the drain of the DI fund was even simpler because it was merely a short-term fix designed to last 22 years – reallocate a larger portion of the FICA/SECA tax toward DI, possible because the larger OASI fund was projected to run a couple decades of surpluses with or without the reallocation. Now, both programs are in the red, and indeed, about to be deeper in the hole than projected in the mid-1980s as this graph on the projected balances from the 1982 and 2012 Trustees’ Reports from Blahous illustrates:

In 1983, the long-term solutions, which barely made it through Congress, were to delay the COLA adjustment by 6 months, bring federal employees into the system, subject the self-employed to the same total tax rate as “traditional” employees and employers, and subject half (the employer-funded portion) the benefits of the “wealthy” to the income tax (which, thanks to a lack of any adjustment for inflation, is hitting more seniors every year). Blahous notes that the divide now is at least twice as wide as it was then.

Worse, two of the main “solutions” often offered up by those on either side of the “limit benefits vs. tax more” divide, limit benefit growth to price inflation instead of wage inflation for at least the “high-income” earners, and raise the cap on the FICA/SECA tax to an undetermined maximum (up to and including infinity) without allowing any increased benefits, appear to be unable to solve the long-term problem on their own. Indeed, while either of the two most-extreme versions of the “solutions”, indexing all benefits to price inflation and eliminating the cap on the FICA/SECA tax entirely, may have passed the “75-year actuary test” back in 2005, neither alone will work in 2012.

What does continuing to do nothing until it is too late mean for Social Security? Blahous explains:

Upon merging into the general fund, Social Security benefits would be far less secure going forward. Benefit payments would have to compete with other annual spending priorities, and would be limited to those deemed affordable given pressures elsewhere in the budget. They would thus be much more susceptible to sudden reductions, means-tests, and other episodic changes to which general fund financed programs have long been subjected.

If this all happens, and renders tomorrow’s Social Security benefits less secure than today’s, it would be a tragic irony: the outcome would have been brought about largely by supporters of Social Security having countenanced the tactics of delay to the point that the program’s unique political protections could no longer be preserved. Those who care about the Social Security program need to clearly understand the consequence of this ongoing neglect; that time for a realistic financing solution has nearly run out.

Just as a reminder, when the trust funds run out of money, whether it be the DI fund in 2016 should nothing be done, the OASI fund in 2035 should nothing be done, or the combined OASDI funds in 2033 should that combining be the only thing done, the benefits paid out by said fund(s) will be cut by over 20%.

There is also the very real cost of getting DI to the middle of 2016, and OASI barely into 2035 (or if one prefers, the combined programs into 2033); the monetization of the trust funds. The Trustees put the difference between non-trust-fund revenues and expenditures of the combined OASDI programs at $4.993 trillion in current dollars (inflation-adjusted $3.506 trillion in 2012 dollars) through 2032, the last full year of “normal” operations. In 2032, the inflation-adjusted shortfall is projected to be roughly $349 billion in 2012 dollars (non-adjusted $586 trillion), or nearly a third of all the discetionary spending by the federal government this fiscal year, with an ever-increasing shortfall in succeeding years. Unfortunately, that money doesn’t exist outside of a series of IOUs, which means it will have to be borrowed, taxes will have to be increased, other spending will have to be cut, or some combination of the three will need to be done.

Before that, specifically in 2026, total spending on Social Security on an inflation-adjusted basis will exceed what will be spent in federal discretionary outlays this fiscal year. If all that is done is Social Security remains a drag on the larger federal budget by paying out all of the promised benefits, by the time 2070 rolls around and most of the Gen-Xers (including me) die off, in inflation-adjusted terms, spending on Social Security will be more than what either the White House Office of Management and Budget or the Congressional Budget Office expects the federal government to take in next fiscal year, when Taxmageddon hits.

Social Security, in its current form, is doomed. Waiting until the last few months, as was done in both 1983 and 1994, is not exactly an option. The window for an “easy” solution, if it hasn’t already closed, is rapidly closing. The person who is in the White House after January 19, 2013, and those in Congress next year, will have to make hard choices quickly.

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